Flash Fiction: The Knight

Once upon a time, there was a knight who became a statue. It was a curse, as these things go, and before he could cry out he was no longer made of flesh, muscle, tissue, bone. He was no longer a man, with man-like joints and tendons and flexing hands and toes. He was cold, gray stone. A smooth, polished marble, veins of glinting crystal where blood used to flow.

He watched the world turn for hundreds of years. For many of those years he was well kept, cleaned with a cloth and shined. The spots where the winds of time created nicks and chinks in his once smooth surface were repaired. He was admired by young girls who walked past, giggling and blushing. He was appraised by older gentleman who stopped and removed their hats in an act of respect.

He grew old and had old man thoughts and grew senile, the way old men do. And he died a hundred times, or at least accomplished what felt like a death. And when he awoke, inexplicably, frustratingly, he was young again, or felt young, as young as a statue of marble can feel. And he’d mourn, because no one else remained alive who could mourn him, and he’d grow old once more while watching the world become chaotic and boisterous around him. Though the forest grew tangled, and people stopped visiting him, and stopped repairing his chinks and his cracks, he could hear the sounds of a city not far off, populated with strange and new noises he could not identify. And his heart grew heavy, heavier than he ever thought a stone heart could grow, while he waited for time to crumble him.

woman and statueThe slightest whisper of a touch awoke him early one morning. Gentle hands traced the lines on his face, the crystal veins running down his cheeks, his forehead, his nose. He awoke from a melancholy slumber and saw her face for the first time, a light in the darkness he’d grown to know so well.

How did you find me here? he wanted to ask her. But of course his lips could not move, his hands could not touch, his body could not enfold her in an embrace. He strained to feel, butterflies within his stone stomach, as she laid her head in the crook of his shoulder, her face pressed ever so slightly against his. Every part of him was on fire, waiting, waiting, waiting for her to do the one thing no one had ever tried.

“Sometimes I stay here for hours,” she sighed, and he was surprised because he’d never seen her before. “But I stay back because you look so peaceful and I don’t want to interrupt your thoughts.”

She wrapped her arms around his neck and breathed deeply.

“I know it’s silly, but I can’t help myself. And you look so familiar, like I should know you.”

She pulled back and looked into his stone eyes, searching for the spark of life that she must have known was there, that his mind screamed at her to see. She was young but not younger than he was, back then. He had no idea how old he was now. All he knew was that she was so close, and there was so much he had seen and yet missed, so much he did not get to do.

“You must have been a brave knight,” she murmured. “To fight off the queen so. If the legends are to be believed.” She smiled, and her mouth was full of pearls. “I have never kissed a knight.”

And he was sure he had ever felt such ecstasy in anticipation, and she leaned closer and she closed her eyes because that is the proper way, of course, and before he could prepare himself her lips were on his and he felt them, and they were warm and they were soft and thank the gods, thank the gods, thank the gods.

Something cracked within, thawed out, released, and he had joints again, and tendons that screamed in pain and muscles that were so weak they could not hold him and bones that were so sore he fell to his knees, his descent only cushioned by her arms around him. He had eyes that blinked and skin that was so dry and taut he felt he might still be stone, but his desert of a tongue, his jaw that now moved around the sounds in his meaty throat, told him he was not stone any longer.

He tried to speak and only succeeded in creating a grating noise, but it was more than enough for him, created more euphoria than anything he ever experienced before he was stone.

And he looked up at her, she who stared patiently down at him, she who kissed him alive. There was a small smile on her mouth, her expression self satisfied and completely unsurprised. And how, how had she known, how could she have seen what was inside that marble when no one else did for centuries? He could not stop himself and wept, the tears warming his face and creating tracks of salt and dirt.

She sank to her knees beside him in the grass and he knew in that instant that he would never leave her side, not as long as she was there, not as long as she continued to look at him, just like that. Not as long as she continued to save him.

And she leaned toward him, her mouth against his ear. She whispered three words he would never forget, as long as he lived.

“I knew it.”

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Comments
2 Responses to “Flash Fiction: The Knight”
  1. Dave says:

    Nice little tale you wrote here, Hannah. Enjoyed it. Now, you either were inspired to write this based on the photograph you included, or you got lucky when you went looking for a picture to put in your story. A curious mind wants to know 🙂

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